The Moore American

March 19, 2014

Son needs help caring about school

The Moore American

MOORE — Our 10th grade son just doesn’t care. We have tried all the usual methods to try to get him to understand how important his education is, and he just gives us a blank stare. Can you help?

— At A Loss, Norman

Dear At A Loss,

We have heard from more students than we can count how the sophomore year is the most difficult for them. The excitement of ninth grade and getting to the high school has ended, and they still see a long road ahead. The course work in 10 grade is rigorous, also.

Our first piece of advice would be to have him see a physician and get a complete physical. Once the regular childhood illnesses are over, many families only have their children see a doctor if the need arises. This sounds like the need it there. Request lab work such as a blood test in addition to the actual physical routine of height, weight, heart, blood pressure … from this, a doctor will be able to tell you if depression or a lack of an important nutrient is present, as well as the presence of any harmful chemicals.

Next, and as hard as it is to hear, kids of this age have to start making their own decisions. He is required by law to be in school, so you have that on your side. If he is truant so many times, however, you will be the one getting the letter from the DA’s office explaining your consequences of a hefty fine or possible jail time. Make sure he knows this is a definite possibility. He needs to know it will be him paying back the fine should it come to that. Once the fact that he has to go to school is established, you must decide how much you are going to let him punish you.

Often times phrases such as “This is your decision, but realize we are not going to help you make poor decisions, you are responsible for the consequences” may get him to realize he is only hurting himself. Many kids display anger toward their parents for making them follow rules.

They feel that if they cause enough trouble, their parents will give in to their wishes. This should be the furthest from the truth.

Stick by your rules. You are the boss. Once these kids realize their ploy to make you miserable isn’t working, they quickly realize it is them that is harmed and change their behavior.

We can honestly tell you that the majority of kids secretly want boundaries, structure and discipline. It is validation to them that someone actually cares. Of course they are going to balk at it — that’s just a part of spreading their independent wings. They may not truly see how good they had it until they are on their own and having to make all the decisions — but they will get it — and they will come back and say thank you.

Send questions to questions.classact@gmail .com. Jeannie and Sally are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily represent the views of any certain school district.